Ô femme… en

Ô FEMME…

Monica Taragano : flute, musical direction
Fang-Yi Lee : piano
Cristina Azuma : guitar
Vinciane Béranger : viola

« Ô Femme … » invites to a musical journey highlighting the different facets of women through music and  time. The repertoire – which responds to an eminently personal and subjective choice – nonetheless follows a thread on several levels.

On one hand, history shows us with countless examples that women did not have the same right of access to music as men did. It is a stark reality that even now in the 21st century, figures from different studies place the percentage of female composers today at less than 10% in France. This album wants to pay tribute to all these women, who, thanks to their talent and determination, succeeded in freeing themselves from prejudices and obstacles in order to live out their passion, in a context often dominated by men.

On the other hand we will encounter emblematic figures echoing the power of life itself as well as both the strength and fragility of being a woman. Finally a last dimension will reveal what I like to call the « women-muses », those women who inspired – and sometimes fertilized – the work of great men.

The choice of performers, exclusively female, symbolizes and underlines our support for women – from all over the world and in all fields – so that they succeed in achieving their dreams.

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The album opens with Mel Bonis‘ « Sonata » (1858-1937), a very poetic work of great formal rigor, which in our eyes deserves to be better known and recognized, and which has its place in the great repertoire for flute and piano.

It is followed by a monodic chant by Hildegarde de Bingen (1098-1179), abbess and mystic of the Middle Ages. A suspended moment, out of time – prayer or meditation – carried here by the solo flute. The modal language of this song will serve as a bridge through the centuries to arrive at the « Forlane » of Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983), the only woman of the famous Parisian « Groupe des Six ».

The central part of the album is marked by a thunderclap, it announces the voluptuous and heady death of Isolde, this heroine of Germanic mythology whose sublime love rises to the heaven, and who inspired Wagner to produce a stunning piece of music. Here the piano transcription by Franz Liszt, under the fingers of Fang-Yi Lee, shines at the top. The last ascending arpeggios are diluted in another, distant and immaterial sphere. From there, the rarefied and strange landscape of « Lagrimas de un cielo perdido » is gradually revealed. This is an electro-acoustic work commisioned for this project by the composer Julieta Szewach (born 1973). As often, the extremes touch, and this contemporary piece dialogues and strangely resonates with the medieval chant of Hildegarde. Claude Debussy’s nymph Syrinx closes this sequence. It reminds us of the tragic destiny of some women, but also gives us hope with the possibility of a metamorphosis.

A return to reality, an awakening, with the “Nocturne” by the talented Lili Boulanger (1893-1918), who died at just 24 years old, leaving us with musical pieces of great beauty. The travel ends with two pieces from the series « Mujeres, paisajes y retratos » by the Cuban composer Leo Brouwer (born in 1939) : a sparkling « Mujer bailando un Minuetto » and a « Portrait of Wagner and Mathilde » which refers to Mathilde de Wessendock, poetess, muse and great friend of Richard Wagner, the one who rightly inspired his masterful « Tristan and Isolde » which was mentioned earlier.

Monica Taragano, musical director

Cover photo: © Gabriela Morawetz
Photo of artists: © Francis Théry